Tennis star of the future ”“ Zachary Viiala

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Two 12-year-old Australian elite junior tennis players – Zachary Viiala from Perth and Hana Sonton from the Gold Coast ”“ have been announced as Australia’s representatives for the 2018 Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament in Paris from 31 May to 2 June.

Zach’s mother Sharan Dogra is of Indian descent.

Zachary and Hana will take on the best players of their age group from twenty countries around the world at the tournament. This year the tournament will be held at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and for the first time the competition will include boys and girls aged between 10 to 12-years-old. The tournament will be played between 31 May and 2 June.

The young Aussies are preparing for their first international competition overseas and are determined to follow in the footsteps of fellow Australian, Destanee Aiava, who won the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament in 2012.

The promising pre-teenagers, Zachary and Hana, met former Australian tennis star and 2011 French Open mixed doubles champion, Casey Dellacqua, at Melbourne Park a few days ago. Dellacqua, who retired earlier this year, is passionate about tennis, with a desire to mentor the future generation of Australian players.

As the Official Partner and Official Timekeeper of the French Open, Longines seeks tomorrow’s champions at the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament.

The Indian Down Under  interviewed Zachary who answered the question like a mature future champ.

What / who inspired you to take up tennis?

I’ve always loved sports from a very young age and was obsessed with tennis and cricket before the age of three.

I was introduced to mini red ball tennis by a friend around the age of four, and that’s probably when I really fell in love with this sport. I love watching pro-tennis on TV.

Who are your heroes in tennis? Also your heroes in other sports?

My favourite tennis player is Roger Federer because I like his style of play as it is very fluent and he makes everything look easy.  Outside of tennis I admire my parents.

Any tennis in your family?

There are no other tennis players in my family but my grandfather played hockey in the UK and my uncle played county hockey and competitive squash in the UK.

How many hours do you practice tennis a day?

I practice six days a week before and after school. In total I train for about 15 hours [a week], roughly 10 hours on court and five hours fitness, strength and conditioning.

Do you have a coach?

My coach is John Thorpe and he has coached me since I was six years old. We train at Dalkeith Tennis Club and I also train with the National Academy at Tennis West. John will be travelling with me to Paris. John understands me very well and I like his focus on correct  technique.

Your most memorable moment(s) so far?

Zach with Jessie Culley, girl junior champ

My most memorable moment so far is winning the Under-12 National Claycourt Championships last year. I love playing on the clay, but probably hard court is my favourite surface.

Do your school teachers encourage you to play tennis or do they say “studies first”?!

My school is very supportive of my tennis and they are encouraging with all my training and travel. My mum makes sure I don’t lose focus on my studies.

Your ambition in life?

I would like to be Top 10 in the world and win a Grand Slam.

Any other interest?

Outside tennis I like watching movies, playing basketball and I love good food.

Who would you like to thank for this opportunity?

I’d like to thank Longines especially and Tennis Australia for this opportunity. I also want to thank my Mum and Dad, my coach John Thorpe, my fitness coach Rich Daly and all the Tennis West National Academy coaches.

Anything else you would like to share with the readers of  The Indian Down Under?

Thanks for taking an interest in what I am doing.


The answer which impressed me most was: “I would like to be Top 10 in the world and win a Grand Slam”.

Good on you, Zach!

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